Marines reflect on fallen comrade’s leadership, legacy
Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan -- As people grow, they often reflect on how their character is developed. While new events may replace others, some remain etched in their memories forever.
May 28, 2012 is one of those unforgettable days for Marines and sailors with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. On that day, their beloved brother-in-arms, Sgt. Julian C. Chase, paid the ultimate price for his country during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Almost a year later, Marines and sailors with the companies honored the Edgewater, Md., native’s memory by hosting a barbeque and flag football tournament at Camp Hansen May 24.
“I remember when they told me he didn’t make it,” said Capt. Adam P. Bracchi, a team leader with 5th ANGLICO, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “I felt like I had been hit in the stomach with a sledgehammer.
“So much time is spent telling stories and remembering how great he was as a Marine and a man,” said Bracchi. “Throughout the last year, I have pondered who he really was and why people have nothing but good things to say about him. What I narrowed it down to is that he was the kind of person who wanted to better himself at everything he did, no matter what it was.
“Qualities like that do not go unnoticed, and the impression he left on our guys are unmatchable.”
Also in attendance for the gathering were Marines with Company F, 2nd Bn., 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, currently assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III MEF, who served with Chase in Afghanistan.
“When the ANGLICO guys attached to us in Afghanistan, we immediately knew they were going to fit in,” said Cpl. Corey J. Thomas, a squad leader with the battalion. “I remember Chase was one of the most selfless people I knew. He was the kind of leader who put others before himself. Chase will never be forgotten, and his memory will live on through Fox Company and 5th ANGLICO.”
With many of the Marines who served with Chase from 5th ANGLICO now with other units, his legacy is carried on today through those he influenced, according to Cpl. Jacob M. Snide, a field radio operator with the company who served on Chase’s fire team in Afghanistan.
“He was my team leader, my mentor and someone I will always look up to,” said Snide. “He was the true embodiment of a Marine noncommissioned officer. I remember during the workup before our deployment to Afghanistan, he would be in my room every night helping me and teaching me things he knew. He truly wanted me to succeed, and I’ll always remember how much he genuinely cared about me and his fellow Marines.”
For the Marines who knew Chase personally, they have their good and bad days. One of the ways they cope is by staying in contact with Chase’s parents, according to Bracchi.
“A lot of us visited Chase’s parents on post-deployment leave,” said Bracchi. “It doesn’t take the pain away, but it makes his death easier to cope with by having those relationships. I know his parents are extremely proud of Chase and are grateful his memory lives on through our unit.”
“Sometimes when his dad is having a hard time, he will contact me, and we will talk for hours,” added Snide. “Essentially, Chase is with me in everything I do. The kind of person he was really made me take a step back and want to better myself.”
For the junior Marines in the company who never met Chase, his name is well known throughout conversations and activities, according to Snide.
“I want our junior Marines to know about the kind of Marine he was,” said Snide. “I have noticed that whenever we talk about him, everyone listens. I have even overheard Marines who never met him talking about him. This really goes to show you that while our unit is changing, his legacy lives on.”
While this was the first official gathering since Chase’s memorial service, he is remembered every day in the Marines’ hearts and minds, according to Thomas.
“Chase was a prime example of who you want to be as a Marine and as a person,” said Thomas.